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This section covers our overall approach to service charges, from buying services and checking that our contractors provide the best value for money, to how we manage our own services and the answers to your service charge questions. However if you do have a specific question not covered, our Customer Service Charge team is on hand to investigate and help you.

Our approach to service charges

Procurement of services

Most of the services that are delivered to you are carried out by contractors that we have appointed. Before we select a contractor, we carry out a competitive tendering process. This involves comparing the quality and cost of delivering services and consulting with residents to make sure we can select the contractor who offers the best value for money. We consider value for money to be quality services delivered at a competitive market price. We have a wide range of contracts in place to help us deliver the services that our customers need.

Managing service charges

When we have selected our contractors we enter into contracts for a set number of years. These contracts are managed by our Contract Managers and Property Managers. Their responsibilities include carrying out quality checks and monitoring the service standards of the cleaning, gardening, communal repairs and health and safety out on our estates and maintaining accurate records for service charges.

Our Contract Managers work with contractors to make sure that they have everything they need to offer a good service and hold them to account if the service they deliver falls short. For grounds maintenance and cleaning, our Property Managers will inspect the communal areas of every block between four and 12 times a year (depending on the complexity of the building) to make sure that the building is well looked after and safe for those who live there.

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Service charge annual cycle

Service charge estimates are sent out by the end of February each year and actual statements for the previous year are sent out by the end of September. So, in February 2021 you will receive your estimate for 2021/22 and in September 2021 you will receive your actual statement for 2020/21.

If you receive any service to any part of your building, you will have to pay service charges. Your lease or tenancy agreement will set out your service charge obligations in terms of what you must pay for and whether the service charges are fixed or variable.

Your estimate is a calculation of how much we think we’re going to spend during the upcoming year based on the services you receive.

Following the end of the financial year, we add up how much we’ve spent. During the year, we may have charged you more (surplus) or less (deficit) than we spent. Homeowners are expected to pay any deficit once they’ve received their statement or can have a refund for any surplus. If you are a tenant, any difference is rolled into your estimate for the following year.

Service charge questions and answers

The questions and answers page provides the questions and answers you may have about service charges, including what a service charge is, what happens if you overpay or underpay and where to go for help and support.

How we deal with enquiries

To help improve our service charges and increase transparency in the way charges are calculated, we formed the Customer Service Charge team. The team are responsible for completing a thorough investigation into a service charge enquiry and providing a detailed response. If the team receive multiple enquiries from the same building or scheme, these will all be investigated, and a response sent to all affected residents.

It can take some time to provide a comprehensive response and give reassurance about how charges have been calculated or how any errors are put right. We understand this can be frustrating, but we want to make sure we give you all the information you need.

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What we’ve done

Over the last three years we have been making changes to help improve our service charges. This has included introducing changes to how we categorise our homes. We’ve also introduced a dedicated team – the Customer Service Charge team to help answer queries relating to your service charges.

We are continuously looking at ways to improve our service charges and the feedback you give us is really important.

  • For more information and the glossary of services covered please visit our guide to the terms we use.
  • Our property groupings provide a clearer structure and help to identify the services that fall under each category.
  • We have provided explanations for each section of both your service charge estimate and your actual service charge statement, to make sure they are clearer and easier for you to understand.
  • Property Managers are the eyes and ears on our estates making sure cleaning, ground maintenance and rubbish removal services are delivered. Property Managers keep accurate records and report back to the team.
  • Our value for money page explains how we work with and manage our contractors.